In a previous blog, I wrote about the Takeda Castle Ruins and how to go about visiting it. Today I want to share about the town itself, and the Former Old Kimura Distillery, now turned into a hotel for tourists visiting Takeda.
I will try to do less talking/explaining for this post, and more of a photo blog type post.
However, I do want to share my overall thoughts on my stay at the Former Old Kimura Distillery, aka The EN Takeda Castle Hotel.
The EN Takeda Castle Town Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from JR Takeda station, just at the end of the main road. It is a building that's quite difficult to miss, due to the size and land mass it takes up. However, the entrance to the hotel isn't all that obvious if you are on the same side of the street and surrounded by other traditional Japanese houses down the main street.
I had actually entered through the wrong way, as I didn't notice the doorway that had said "hotel". I found my way into the museum/grounds/storage/inner part of the hotel by accident, and entered through there instead. Oops!
However, the staff were all extremely kind and welcoming. They greeted me warmly and told me I was too early for check-in, but was able to leave my belongings with them while I went to Takeda Castle and explore. So I did.
When I returned for check-in, they sat me down in their reception area. Another family was just finishing up their check-in, and seemed to be the only other group I would be staying with inside this hotel (as I didn't really see other guests that night). The staff member in charge of checking me in explained to me a bit about the hotel, and that besides their main building, they had other rental "machiya" (traditional Japanese wooden houses) that guests were able to rent out. These machiya were scattered along the main strip I had walked through from the station. Whilst explaining, another staff member had served me up some welcome treats and drinks - which I gladly partook in. After a few more things to take care of, the staff asked me to pick out a toiletry bag, all of different patterns and designs. I chose this one and my yukata for the night:
When I was all ready, the staff member showed me to my room - which was just down the hall from the reception area. Very close! She explained to me that my room used to be part of a hallway in the Distillery, which is now made into a room. She then showed me how to lock my doors and told me to careful of the step down to my room, and then took me on a brief tour of the main building.
Just before heading to the public baths, we came across this door. Which to my surprise, was another room! Pretty neat!
You had to briefly step outside to get to the public baths and the dining hall, which was across the grounds of the main building.
And that concluded everything that I needed to know for my stay. The staff member kindly reminded me of the number to the front desk, and left me to explore and enjoy my room.
Since I did not have a dinner plan, I went back outside to properly explore the town. And get some light meal. Not too far from the hotel, there are a few food options like okonomiyaki, izakaya and a pancake cafe called Powan. I opted for the pancakes. Nothing like all-day breakfast, right?
With a full stomach, I went to explore the neighbourhood. Behind the hotel, there were actually some very interesting homes.
(click the arrows to scroll) A few of these homes have a water drainage canal/gutters that have the koi fish swimming in it. That surprised me as I knew a few other towns like Gujo Hachiman were famous for this, but I did not know Takeda had built these canals too. Which was a nice welcoming surprise to see.
To be honest, there isn't much to do in the town. There are a few hiking trails, but in terms of entertainment, this isn't the place for it. Which of course, makes it a great place to just relax and wind down from the city life.
After exploring the neighbourhood, I returned to the hotel to explore the grounds a bit more.
(click the arrow to scroll through the pictures) If you looked into some of the buildings, you can still see some of the tools they used back when it was a distillery. They have an open museum part in the main building, which tools and equipment left behind from Distillery. Unfortunately I wasn't able to some good pictures for that though (sorry!)...
Just as night fell, I partook in the public bath (nothing to ring home about, unfortunately), did a bit of work, enjoy the light up of Takeda Castle from my window and went to bed.
The next morning, I after my little excursion, I went for breakfast in the dining hall.
Breakfast in Japanese hotels, as everyone can tell you, is never worth it. But I knew I wouldn't be able to get a good sit-down meal until I get to Kinosaki onsen much later in the day, so I decided to partake in it. While it was definitely delicious, the price of 2000yen for small portions of veggies, fish and lots of tofu-inspired pieces don't seem to be worth it at all.
Here are some pictures of the dining hall, by the way:
All in all, it was a fun stay. I don't know if I would do it again. The price for the overall stay isn't exact cheap (about $200 CAD for one night), and while it was an awesome experience, there was one thing that really bugged me. Soundproofing. Well, lack of it. It was extremely difficult for me to sleep that night as the structure was all just wood... and wood creaks. A lot. If you can afford the machiya in the separate buildings, I think you wouldn't run into this problem at all. But with my room being so close to the reception area, this was definitely an issue.
Overall though, I did enjoy Takeda and I'm really glad I chose to stay a night there. I hope you'll decide to visit as well one day!